Volunteer to Help Endangered Species

USFWS volunteer plants marsh grass at Big Branch National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Steve Hillebrand / USFWS

Volunteering is a valuable and rewarding way to support environmental causes, including endangered species conservation. Instead of simply sending a donation check off in the mail, volunteering gives you a hands-on opportunity to help protect resources and animals you care about, and the results of your efforts are more tangible, too.

Here are a handful of organizations that welcome volunteers to assist with various aspects of conserving endangered species and their habitats.

Endangered Species International

Volunteers are needed to assist with field projects involving: coral reefs in Southeast Asia, gorillas in Central Africa, forest preservation, illegal wildlife trade, education, and outreach. Volunteers are welcome from around the world with strong educational backgrounds (at least a Bachelor degree), passion for nature, and previous experience in the conservation and community field. Past vounteers have included biologists, eco-tourism specialists, anthropologists, writers, graphic designers, and students. Look for available volunteer and internship positions or contact ESI for more information.

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

Help restore critical habitat to protect endangered species habitat in Muir Beach and Dias Ridge, California. Golden Gate National Parks are home to the highest number of federally-protected threatened and endangered species in any national park unit in the continental U.S. Volunteer workdays include a combination of hands-on service and short natural history lessons.

This is an on-going weekly volunteer opportunity. Learn more about when and where you can lend a hand.

Natural Resources Conservation Service Earth Team

The NRCS works with conservation groups and landowners to help conserve and restore private land throughout the United States. Private land is an often overlooked component of ecosystems and is critical to the survival of endangered species.

Earth Team volunteers are an integral part of the conservation partnership. Working side-by-side with farmers and ranchers, volunteers help the NRCS implement conservation plans to address natural resource concerns like soil erosion and water quality problems. Anyone over 14 years of age can be an Earth Team volunteer, either part-time or full-time. Learn more about how you can join an Earth Team near you.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Volunteers across North America have made the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation one of the most successful wildlife conservation organizations in the world by committing their time, talents and energy to protecting and enhancing more than 6.1 million acres that support endangered and threatened species as well as elk. Volunteer projects involve habitat protection and restoration, conservation education, and hunting heritage projects. Volunteers from all walks of life are encouraged to participate at any level. Learn more about how RMEF volunteers "roll up their sleeves to complete conservation projects on the ground".

The Nature Conservancy

Volunteers help The Nature Conservancy "devote a major portion of its funds to land conservation, keeping effectiveness high and costs low." In all 50 states of the U.S., Nature Conservancy volunteers help protecting habitats (from grasslands to coral reefs) and address threats to conservation involving climate change, fresh water, oceans, and conservation lands.

To see if there are any upcoming volunteer opportunities in your area, go to your state's website and look for a "volunteer" link that will point you in the right direction.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

With close to 42,000 volunteers contributing in excess of 1.5 million hours, USFWS volunteers perform a wide variety of tasks, including: banding birds at national wildlife refuges, raising fish at national fish hatcheries, conducting wildlife surveys, leading tours, restoring habitat, and much more. Some volunteers work full-time, and others work just a few hours a week or month, or during a particular season or special event. Generally, no special skills are required to be a volunteer. On-the-job training is provided as needed. Individual talents and skills are matched with volunteer interests and work opportunities.

Learn more about how you can participate in your area.